Canada came of age during the Second World War and was widely recognized as a nation with enormous industrial potential. C.D. Howe, the Liberal Minster of Munitions and Suppy and of Reconstruction responsible for the disposal of war assets, was anxious to see the development of an indigenous high-technology aircraft industry. Sir Roy Dobson, Managing Director of A.V. Roe and Company, a division of Hawker-Siddeley Aircraft of Britain, was impressed with Canada's wartime aviation achievements and shared Howe's dream. In 1945, Howe sold Victory Aircraft Limited, a Crown Corporation located in Malton, Ontario, under generous terms to Dobson's company: A.V. Roe Canada Limited, which would later be known as Avro Aircraft Limited, was born. Avro's mandate was not to be a mere branch-plant operation, manufacturing foreign aircraft under license. As Avro boldly declared, their world-class staff were to be "Designers and Builders of All Types of Aircraft."
In 1946, Avro undertook its first design project, a commercial transcontinental jet transport built to specifications drawn up by Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA). On August 10, 1949, the Avro C-102 Jetliner prototype took flight, missing being the first jet-powered passenger aircraft to fly in the world by only thirteen days. On April 18, 1950, the Jetliner carried the world's first jet-delivered airmail during a record-breaking Toronto-New York flight. But Avro encountered difficulty in dealing with TCA and the Department of Transport and, despite considerable interest from Howard Hughes, owner of TransWorld Airlines, and the United States Air Force (USAF), no Jetliners were sold. With the outbreak of the Korean War Howe ordered work on the project discontinued so that Avro could concentrate on military aircraft. The sole Jetliner, which had been years ahead of its time, was scrapped by Avro in 1957.
Avro's first and only successful venture came in the area of military rather than civil aviation. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) had learned from frustrating wartime experience the difficulty in obtaining foreign-built combat aircraft suited to Canada's peculiar defence needs. In 1946, Howe, determined to secure an independent and domestic source of weaponry for the RCAF, awarded Avro a contract to design a long-range, two-seat, twin-engine all-weather interceptor to meet the RCAF's North American and European air defence commitments. In that same year Avro bought Turbo Research Limited from Howe, renamed it Orenda Engines Limited, and began developing a jet engine to power the proposed fighter.
The Avro CF-100 Canuck prototype took flight for the first time on January 19, 1950. Because of the tense Cold War climate, accelerated production began in 1952. Despite early RCAF and government anxiety over a structural design flaw, successively improved versions of the Canuck and the Orenda engine kept the plant busy until 1958 when the 692nd and last Canuck rolled off the assembly line. The overall cost of the programme was $750 million. Canucks served with distinction in thirteen RCAF squadrons, nine in Canada and four in Europe, and fifty-three were purchased by the Belgian Air Force. A total of 3838 Orenda engines were built, 1723 of which became the power plant of the Canadair-built Sabre Jet. Reliable and cost-effective, the final mark of the Canuck could exceed Mach 1 in a dive, had a 45,000 ft ceiling, a 689mm range, a sophisticated radar fire-control system and was formidably armed with machine-guns and unguided rocket pods. Known affectionately as the " Clunk" by RCAF pilots, the last Canuck, an electronic countermeasures version, was retired by the Canadian Armed Forces in 1981.